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Combining Forces For In-Depth Local News

Today, the Curators of the University of Missouri System approved the merger of St. Louis Public Radio and The St. Louis Beacon. Beginning in December, the organizations will combine newsrooms and begin to change the face of independent local news in our region and beyond by providing even more depth and perspective on issues and stories that impact our community.

The Beacon's Margie Freivogel, UMSL's Martin Leifeld, and St. Louis Public Radio's Tim Eby.

The Beacon’s Margie Freivogel, UMSL’s Martin Leifeld, and St. Louis Public Radio’s Tim Eby.

Additionally the new organization will work closely with the University of Missouri system, particularly the School of Journalism in Columbia, to train journalism students in public media and to develop a sustainable business model for the industry.

From Beacon reporter Dale Singer in a detailed report about the approval of the merger: “Dean Mills, dean of the journalism school at Mizzou, told the curators at their meeting that he was excited about the chance for students to work in the St. Louis area and for the Reynolds Journalism Institute on the Columbia campus to apply its research on a new journalistic structure. When approached about the idea, he said, ‘it took me 20 seconds to say yes, yes, yes.'”

Today St. Louis Public Radio general manager Tim Eby said, “We are excited about this first in the nation merging of an non-profit online news start-up and a public radio news operation. We feel that this is a model that will bring about a stronger local service for the St. Louis region on-air, on-line, and in the community.” In a post on this blog in September Tim detailed more of his take on the last year of merger talks.

Beacon editor Margie Freivogel is set to lead the newsroom effort of the combined media organization. Her thoughts on today’s developments are detailed in her editor’s column.

National press has been paying to attention to the merger. Here’s what other news organizations have been saying:

See the University of Missouri System and UMSL official responses to the merger decision as well.


The St. Louis Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio: An Update

It was just about a year ago that the St. Louis Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio jointly announced their intention to explore forming an alliance to better serve the St. Louis region through journalism.

STL Beacon

Through the past year we have been investigating how, by bringing our two organizations together, we can better serve the St. Louis region.  Through this exploration we have come to believe that high quality journalism is an important component in creating a narrative about the challenges and realizations of a region reinventing itself.  By providing deep reporting, thoughtful discussion and interesting perspectives on key questions, citizens in the region will gain a better understanding of the important issues happening in our region.

Our two organizations combined will have nearly 40 news and content staff producing audio, text, video, data, and photography across digital and broadcast platforms.  Of course this is in addition to programs and content from our public radio partners on-air and on-line.

The discussions of the merger over the past year have also triggered exciting academic and research initiatives in a three-way partnership with the University of Missouri – St. Louis’ College of Fine Arts and Communication, and the University of Missouri – Columbia’s School of Journalism.
Through this partnership utilizing UMSL at Grand Center (the home of St. Louis Public Radio) as a base, UMSL and UMC are cooperatively investing further convergent media opportunities and research in emerging technology and interactive design, where best practices learned from the Reynolds Journalism Institute are being used to develop models for sustaining quality, multi-platform journalism in metropolitan areas.

This vision was presented earlier this month to the Board of Curators of University of Missouri System, the governing authority for St. Louis Public Radio, UMSL, and UMC. The proposal was enthusiastically received by the Curators and we have been given the go ahead to formalize an agreement between the Beacon, the University and St. Louis Public Radio that the curators can consider for approval at their next meeting in November.

As a follow-up to the Curators meeting earlier this month, Board Chair Wayne Goode and University system President Timothy Wolfe sent a letter to stakeholders of our two organizations outlining why the prospect of the merger is so exciting.

“The list of partners at both the regional and national levels for this endeavor is amazing.  We recognize that the world of media is watching this with keen interest.  We are proud of this pioneering effort in the future of media and journalism…

To learn more about this effort, you can read a report from Coats2Coats Consulting from our initial work on the merger that was funded through a grant from The Knight Foundation.  If you’re interested in learning more about the merger, please email

The Public Radio “Community”

One of the most rewarding aspects of working in public radio is that we know our listeners care about and are highly engaged in their community.

Public radio listeners have high levels of participation in all forms of public discourse, from contacting the media to attending public meetings. Listeners are vocal advocates for causes they support, and have strong community ties that give them disproportionate influence in their social and political networks.

NPR Listeners Love Their Communities (1280x1097)

That is why through our work we seek to illuminate, investigate, challenge and celebrate what it means to be a St. Louisan, and through these efforts connect you to stories and events from places nearby and far away.

Our efforts should:

  • Help individuals live a more thoughtful and fulfilling life and be better prepared to make decisions and take action;
  • Help our region appreciate its culture, recognize its strengths, understand its challenges, and embrace its opportunities;
  • Help our democracy by ensuring that everyone has access to information they need to understand the events and ideas that shape our world.

This work is made possible through individuals, businesses, and institutions who support us.  Thanks.

St. Louis Public Radio receives Champion of the Arts Award

St. Louis Public radio received the Champion of the Arts Award from the Arts and Education Council at the 2013 St. Louis Arts Awards at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel on Monday, January 21, 2013.

The event kicks off the Arts and Education Council’s 50th anniversary of funding various arts organizations in the St. Louis area. Proceeds from the event benefited the Arts and Education Council’s annual campaign which funds nearly 70 arts education organizations throughout the bi-state region.

ImageThe award is given each year to one business or organization that epitomizes leadership, generosity, and dedication towards the arts in their local community. Local groups, organizations, and citizens nominate local businesses for this honor. The award is artwork by local artists.


The Champion of the Arts Award

St. Louis Public Radio is a constant supporter of the arts community in the St. Louis area through online and on-air work. St. Louis Public Radio provides the St. Louis area with in-depth interviews, a forum for civil discussion, and entertaining programs that focus on the issues and people that make up the St. Louis area. St. Louis Public Radio broadcasts live St. Louis Symphony performances on Saturday evenings, provides a 24-hour stream of classical music online and on HD channel Classical KWMU-2, and covers happenings in the arts in St. Louis each week on Cityscape. A video of the work St. Louis Public Radio produces was shared at the event.

Also honored at the Awards were Chuck Berry with the Lifetime Achievement award in the Arts, PNC Bank with the award for Corporate Support of the Arts; Judy and Jerry Kent for Excellence in Philanthropy; the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for Excellence in the Arts; Michael Uthoff for Excellence in the Arts; and Duane Martin Fosteras Art Educator of the Year.

Happy Holidays from St. Louis Public Radio

Take the creative energy of one of our great staff members, combine with a new building and the holiday spirit… and the result is this wonderful video that gives new meaning to the concept of a “travel” mug.

Our Traffic Coordinator, Spencer Reed, produced the video and we offer it to you as a Holiday Gift from St. Louis Public Radio!

Thanks to Spencer for this creativity, and thanks to our listeners and contributors for their wonderful support!

Exploring a New Model to Serve St. Louis

Response from the St. Louis community and beyond has been very positive in the aftermath of announcement that St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon are exploring an alliance to better serve the community through journalism.

The non-binding letter of intent signed last week expresses a shared belief that the Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio can serve St. Louisans better together than they can separately. As a result of this action the two news organizations will begin exploring options for strengthening regional news reporting by using their individual assets in combination.

It is the perfect time for us to be embarking on this expedition seeking a new model for public service journalism.  Both organizations have established reputations for delivering exceptional journalism to its audiences and, with the digital revolution transforming media, there is a historic opportunity to further establish St. Louis as a leader in journalism innovation.

We have been “test driving” some joint news reporting utilizing Rob Koenig, the Beacon’s Washington D.C. reporter, regularly sharing his observations on politics and issues with St. Louis Public Radio listeners on St. Louis on the Air, our daily local program.  In the last few months, Beyond November, a comprehensive, in-depth election-coverage project that also includes collaboration with the Nine Network of Public Media, has increased the level of collaboration between our organizations.

In the announcement, we specified that the alliance discussions will be dedicated to improving the St. Louis region by:

  • Advancing regional news reporting at a time when many news organizations around the nation are shrinking;
  • Engaging people throughout the region and sharing reporting on air, online and in person;
  • Encouraging vibrant dialogue and driving innovation with new tools in the digital age.

We also intend to continue to work in partnership with the Nine Network of Public Media and with other regional and national organizations.

While the letter of intent is non-binding, it authorizes the two organizations to share expertise with each other and develop options for a formal arrangement.  We expect to conclude exploratory discussions by the beginning of 2013.

It’s an exciting time for us to begin this journey and we’ll keep you up-to-date as we progress down the road.

An Invitation to an Open House

open house


1. A social event in which hospitality is extended to all.
We’ve spent the last two months getting our new home in order and we’re now ready to open our doors and invite you to join us for a Grand Opening Open House on Saturday, September 15th from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p..m.
And it’s going to be a grand celebration!
The official ribbon cutting to commemorate the opening of the facility at 3651 Olive Street in the Grand Center District in midtown St. Louis will take place at 10:15 AM with University of Missouri – St. Louis Chancellor Tom George joined by other community and civic leaders.
Also joining the celebration will be NPR Morning Edition host Renee Montagne, who will be here to meet and chat with fans and friends of St. Louis Public Radio.
Chancellor George discussed the new facility in UMSL Daily, the University’s news blog:
Classes have started, St. Louis Public Radio is on the air, and we are thrilled to have the St. Louis community see the exciting things the University of Missouri–St. Louis is doing in Grand Center.   We are certainly looking forward to furthering our working relationships with our many other arts, education, and media partners, such as the Nine Network of Public Media, St. Louis Symphony, Jazz at the Bistro, the Contemporary Art Museum, the Sheldon, and the Kranzberg Arts Center.

UMSL at Grand Center will open its doors to the public on Sept. 15 for a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house. The new $12 million facility makes UMSL neighbors with the facility (pictured in the background) that houses Nine Network of Public Media, HEC-TV, and the St. Louis Beacon. Other neighbors include the Fabulous Fox, the Sheldon Concert Hall and the Contemporary Art Museum. (Photo by August Jennewein)

As part of the celebration, listeners will be able to tour the facility including the three state-of-the-art UMSL classrooms, the nine broadcast studios, and the offices and community space housed within the three-story, 27,000 square-foot building.

Brian Owens

Erin Bode

In addition, at 1 p.m., the first live music broadcast from the facility will take place in the Community Room, which seats more than 100 people and was designed for live radio broadcasts.  The broadcast will feature two of the region’s great vocalists:  Brian Owens and Erin Bode.  Steve Potter, host of Cityscape, will host the one hour broadcast.
Some of St. Louis’ finest food trucks (Chop ShopThe Cheese ShackSteamroller Bagel and Deli, and Zia’s Italian) will be hand from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as part of the festivities.
RSVP for the event at our Facebook event page.
UMSL at Grand Center | Home of St. Louis Public Radio was designed by St. Louis architects Heather Woofter and Sung Ho Kim of Axi:Ome. B.C. Development Co. from Kansas City, Mo. was the developer; S.M. Wilson was general contractor. Chiodini Associates was the architect of record.

Quincy Public Radio | 90.3 WQUB to Debut This Evening As Part of the St. Louis Public Radio Network

The University of Missouri-St. Louis completed its purchase of WQUB 90.3 FM from Quincy University today.  Now part of the St. Louis Public Radio network, WQUB will be called Quincy Public Radio and will begin broadcasting this evening.

Quincy Public Radio listeners will not only be able to continue enjoying signature public radio programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered, The Diane Rehm Show, Fresh Air and Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, but they will now be able to also hear other signature programs such as Talk of the Nation, Marketplace, Car Talk, This American Life and A Prairie Home Companion.

“This move will ensure that public radio will remain a valuable asset in the Quincy region now and in the future,” said St. Louis Public Radio and Quincy Public Radio general manager Tim Eby.  “On the air and in the community, we are committed to providing Quincy Public Radio listeners the best service possible.”

A complete Quincy Public Radio broadcast schedule is available at or by calling 866-240-5968.

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St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU and Quincy Public Radio | 90.3 WQUB provide the St. Louis and Quincy regions award-winning, in-depth news, insightful discussion, and entertaining programs that focus on the issues and people who shape our communities, our country and our world. Signature programs include: Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, This American Life, Marketplace, Car Talk, St. Louis on the Air, BBC World Service, The Tavis Smiley Show, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and A Prairie Home Companion.

St. Louis Public Radio, which broadcasts in HD on 90.7, 90.7-2 and 90.7-3, reaches nearly 235,000 people each week in the bi-state area. Quincy Public Radio, which broadcasts in HD on 90.3, reaches nearly 150,000 people each week throughout nine counties in western Illinois and northeastern Missouri.


St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU and Quincy Public Radio | 90.3 WQUB are member-supported services of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.




Fiscal Year-End Highlights

June 30th marked the end of our 2012 fiscal year and it has been another amazing year at St. Louis Public Radio. First, here are a few quick bullet points that highlight the year:
St. Louis Public Radio mobile app

  • Started broadcasting from UMSL at Grand Center on June 18, 2012
  • Received a $1 Million pledge from Monsanto for UMSL at Grand Center
  • Estimated surplus at fiscal year-end of more than $200,000 – an operating surplus of approximately 4% of revenue
  • A 4% increase in overall revenue including a 4% increase in individual giving and 2% growth in corporate sponsorship billing
  • Unveiled new mobile app for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices that resulted in a 150% increase in listening to our three webstreams
  • St. Louis Public Radio news reporters recognized with seven awards for journalism excellence from the Missouri State Teachers Association, Missouri Broadcasters Association, and the Illinois Associated Press.
  • 2013 St. Louis Arts award recipient from the Arts & Education Council as “Champion For The Arts” and St. Louis Magazine’s “A” List for classical music programming.
  • Sponsored more than 80 community events focusing on the arts, science, education, literacy, cultural diversity, green living, civil discourse and community development. This list of events includes the two most-successful blood drives in the history of the station, a symposium on entrepreneurial business start-up and development, an international business career conference, and awards ceremonies honoring St. Louisans for their contributions to the arts and business communities.

These bullet points are highlights but the year also included on-going excellence in our news and programming areas. You regularly hear our reporters from St. Louis Public Radio on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Marketplace. St. Louis on the Air continues to discuss the important issues facing our region and Cityscape serves as a connector to the arts in St. Louis. Our web site and social media efforts have evolved to serve a new platform for audience engagement and public service.

In May, we announced the intent to acquire WQUB-FM from Quincy University. WQUB is the public radio station service more than 120,000 people in and around Quincy, IL and serves as a northern extension of our coverage area. The costs of this acquisition should be around $100,000 with our business plan calling for operating the station in the black in three years. The most important aspect of this acquisition is that we have preserved the public radio service for this community.

Also in May we completed the second year of live Saturday evening broadcasts of the St. Louis Symphony from Powell Hall. These broadcasts have been a resounding success in audience and financial terms for the station. We begin season three in September as neighbors to the Symphony where we envision new opportunities for collaboration.

On the subject of collaboration, we end our fiscal year beginning an exciting project with the St. Louis Beacon and the Nine Network of Public Media focused on the 2012 election and government accountability. Beyond November, with funding from the Deer Creek Foundation, will be our first serious collaborative effort with our new Grand Center neighbors. We view this collaboration as a test effort for future opportunities.

We also initiated another partnership this year with Sauce Magazine that explores the food culture of St. Louis. Sound Bites is heard monthly on Cityscape and has been very well received by our listeners.

Our fundraising efforts were highlighted by significant growth (up 18%) in gifts of $1,000 or more and with the expansion of our sustaining membership program. We now have 26% (5,300) of all current donors in our sustaining membership program.

Finally, from a financial standpoint, our expected surplus this year will bring our case reserve up to approximately $1.7 million. It’s a tribute to the station’s staff that we went from no cash in reserve to where we are now in just four years.

Thanks for your great support of the station this year. Looking forward to a very exciting FY 2013!


A Reality in Grand Center

Just before 5 a.m. on Monday, June 18, 2012 a new era began for St. Louis Public Radio. At that time, Morning Edition host Bob McCabe opened the microphone for the first time from our new studios at UMSL in Grand Center, the new home of St. Louis Public Radio.

The move to 3651 Olive Street in the Grand Center District in midtown St. Louis ends a 40-year history of the station broadcasting from Lucas Hall on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus. We celebrated this history earlier this month with the station’s 40th anniversary of broadcast operations on June 2.

An early photo of the on-air studio at St. Louis Public Radio (KWMU) in Lucas Hall on the UMSL Campus

This relocation to a new facility in Grand Center is part of a move that includes the academics from UMSL also moving into the city of St. Louis. Within the 27,000-square feet of UMSL at Grand Center there are three classrooms, conference areas and academic offices, and the studios and offices for St. Louis Public Radio.

The portion of the building devoted to St. Louis Public Radio includes nine broadcast studios and expanded office space to accommodate our increased investment in reporters and producers to cover the St. Louis region.

The location of our new home brings with it a wealth of opportunities for new partnerships while expanding on our existing alliances throughout the area. We are now next door to our public media colleagues at the Nine Network for Public Media and the St. Louis Beacon.  Our community radio friends, KDHX, will be building their new home just down the street from us.  In addition, with the home of the St. Louis Symphony at Powell Hall, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, the Contemporary Art Museum, Jazz at the Bistro, and the Fox Theatre all within a five-minute walk of the station we expect to expand our role as a Champion for the Arts in St. Louis.

With the first day of broadcasting in our new home, we thought it fitting to talk about the new building with the design architects Heather Woofter and Sung Ho Kim on our initial broadcast of St. Louis on the Air from the new studio. In addition, Vince Schoemehl, the President and CEO of Grand Center, also joined in on the conversation discussing the building and its role in the Grand Center district.

The work to create a new home for St. Louis Public Radio goes back nearly ten years and is really a beginning more than it is an end.  It is the beginning of a new opportunity for the station to expend its public service to St. Louis and engage the community in new and innovative ways. Please save the date of Saturday, September 15, 2012 to come visit the station at our official Grand Opening of UMSL at Grand Center.

Finally, the video below by Brent Jones of The St. Louis Beacon chronicles the exterior construction of the building from April 2011 until today.